ACA News & Publications

ACA Pathways: California Expands Definition of Domestic Partner to Include Opposite Sex Partners

August 02, 2019

On July 30, 2019, Gov. Newsome signed into law SB 30, amending the California Family Code (Family Code) to extend domestic partnership benefits, rights, and privileges, to all registered opposite sex domestic partners. In other words, there is no longer a requirement that at least one opposite sex partner be at least age 62. However, other requirements must still be met for domestic partners to avail themselves of their rights under state law, including the requirement to register their domestic partnership with the California Secretary of State.

According to the bill's author, regarding the rationale for the legislation, "Senate Bill 30 expands Californians' options to enter into legally protected relationships. In modern life, people make all sorts of relationship choices reflecting their values, commitments, and long-term plans. SB 30 removes discriminatory barriers for couples who wish to become domestic partners and recognizes and respects their relationship choices. Not everyone in California wants to be married, but many do want their relationships and families to be recognized and have legal protections. This bill enables people's freedom to make choices about their own relationships."

Summary Of Domestic Partnership Requirements

SB 30 amends Section 297 of the Family Code to eliminate the requirement that the domestic partner must be of the same sex or, if of the opposite sex, at least one partner must be at least age 62. Accordingly, Section 297, as amended, contains the following requirements for entering into a domestic partnership:

  1. Both persons must be adults who have chosen to share one another's lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring;
  2. Both persons must file a notarized "Declaration of Domestic Partnership" form with the California Secretary of State (such form will be made available at the Secretary of State's office or on its website);
  3. Neither person must be married to anyone else or be a member of another domestic partnership with someone else that hasn't been terminated, dissolved, or adjudged a nullity;
  4. Both persons cannot be related by blood in a way that would prevent them from being married to each other in California;
  5. Both persons must be at least 18 years of age (unless a court order is obtained granting the underage person permission to enter into the partnership); and
  6. Both persons must be capable of consenting to the partnership.

In addition, SB 30 amends the instructions on the "Declaration of Domestic Partnership" form to require an explanation that registered domestic partners have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law as are granted to and imposed upon legally married persons, as well as an explanation on how to terminate a registered domestic partnership.

Employer Next Steps

Fully insured plans sitused in California will now be required to offer coverage to both same and opposite sex couples who meet the new requirements. Many employers currently only recognize opposite sex domestic partners when one of the partners is at least age 62, as long as they meet the other requirements under California law. While some employers do allow non-registered domestic partners onto their plans, these individuals do not have spouse-like rights that would be otherwise available to registered domestic partners. Thus, this amendment could have a significant impact to both employers and employees alike.

The State will need to update its registration forms for these changes to fully take effect. Accordingly, we recommend working closely with your benefits broker to coordinate implementation of these new requirements with the insurance carriers.

For More Information
For more information about this ACA Pathways or about any other health care reform-related provisions, please contact your Burnham Benefits consultant or Burnham Benefits at:

Burnham Benefits

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